From Friday’s The Oklahoman:
By Matthew Price
Assistant Features Editor
Writer Neil Kleid deconstructs superheroes with his Zuda.com submission, “Action,Ohio.” Kleid is a Xeric-award winning comic-book creator who has written “
Brownsville,” “Ursa Minors” and “Ninety Candles.” He answered a few questions about the Web comic for The Oklahoman:
Q: How did you come up with Action,Ohio?
A: When I first wrote Action, Ohio, it was called Marvel,Ohio. I pitched it around the House of Ideas as a superhero deconstruction set in the real world that focused on the Silver Age Stan Lee-Jack Kirby characters. The basic idea was that Stan and Jack had created these characters to divert attention from their real life counterparts — a small town in
Ohio where power wasn’t always a gift. The veneer Stan and Jack created to hide them from the world was shattered by the rude awakening of a group of rebels, the impetus for the Marvel supervillains. Over the years, themes and motivations changed, the characters went through transformations but there was always the fascination of the Silver Age. What I finally understood was that I needed to use these characters as a door to open the Pandora’s Box of the entire Silver Age of comic books. Paul Salvi, the artist, helped me expand on the story, focusing on the themes of exploration for heroism, courage, sacrifice and truth.
Q: Tell me about the story.
A: In the ’60s, men responsible for Silver Age comic-book heroes discovered a town of proud but ailing citizens, riddled with the fallout of the atomic age. The comic-book men invented fictional characters based on the town’s residents to divert the world from their existence: IfAmerica thought superheroes were fictional, it wouldn’t hunt them down to experiment on them or persecute them. Now, 40 years later, one of these superhumans dies stopping a fire with amazing abilities and suspecting foul play, a homicide detective discovers the town of superheroes while tracking his killer. Supported by an aging group of heroes, she tries to hide Action from the world but her desire to solve her case blinds her as she searches for the killer. As a town founded on policies of noninvolvement begins to crack — half for isolation, half for throwing open their doors — she weeds out murder suspects, digs into the underbelly of a town that’s imprisoned itself to save the world, and asks: If Action, Ohio, is a town of comic-book heroes, then where are the villains?
Q: Tell me about your collaborator on “Action,Ohio.”
A: Paul Salvi is the illustrator and my co-creator. We met on the Panel and Pixel message forums, a place devoted to creating comics.
Together, we replotted the story and identified the themes and motivations of the characters. This is Paul’s first high profile strip, I believe, but the man should be consistently working – he’s got a great style, very animated and streamlined like the Bruce Timm-Mike Parobeck style you see on some of the DC Comics animated cartoons. He’s also an excellent co-plotter; working together, passing the story outline back and forth, he helped me see story holes and opportunities I’d missed in the past, making “Action, Ohio” a better comic for it.
“Action,Ohio” can be seen online at www.zuda.com as part of the May competition.